One of the oft-quoted maxims in photography is the famous line by Robert Capa – “If your photos aren’t good enough, you are not close enough”. On the streets, getting close enough to strangers to produce the kind of close, intimate photographs takes a lot of courage, and a willingness to shake off personal inhibitions, especially for Asians where personal space is highly valued.
My favorite style of shooting is getting in wide (28mm or 35mm) and getting in close, placing an interesting subject in the foreground while trying to achieve layers in the photo by having a complementary background. Things don’t always happen according to what I want of course, and I don’t like to direct my subjects, but that’s what makes street photography so fun and challenging for me – the element of the unexpected, and the serendipity of it all when everything comes together for a shot.
I was given a personal lesson in getting close and getting access to strangers from war photojournalist Matthias Heng two months ago in a documentary photography workshop, where I’ve had the honor and pleasure of seeing Matthias in action on the very same streets of Little India where I started (and am still actively shooting) my Little India street photography project last year. It was an eye opening experience, and affirm my own conviction to get closer to my subjects.
I went back to Little India yesterday – the place is a veritable visual feast waiting to be discovered. The photos in this post are a small selection of recent (some of it shot only yesterday) photographs which I’m happy with. Even on a weekday, the streets were still pulsating with life. Truly it’s a place where I can relax, and indulge in my passion of observing and shooting life on the streets.
It’s not Tokyo, nor Paris, but Little India has cemented a place in my heart as the place where I can always go back to, a place whose open streets, narrow alleys and bustling traffic always beckon with outstretched hands, inviting me to go back again and again to tread once again on those concrete sidewalks.